Sunday , 21 April 2024

Gaza: Razzia as Political Warfare

gatestoneinstitute.org – British and European Union leaders say the time has come to formally accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Major-General Ismail Qaani, chief of the Quds Force of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, promises to “rebuild Gaza stronger than before as an advance post against world Zionism.”

Claiming to be a “freedom fighter” shouldn’t mean a license to kill at will. Even the “oppressed” have certain duties and must observe some rules while, as history has shown, the tyranny of the underdog could be as deadly as that of the oppressor.

The question today is why, when no time limit is imposed on conventional war until a victor emerges, should war against an insurgent group be subjected to calendar-based shenanigans?

In fact, the origin of razzia is the Arabic word ghazwa, which means a sudden no-holds-barred attack on a single set of targets in the hope of knocking out an adversary… The 9/11 attacks of 2001 on the US were four coordinated razzias.

World War II produced over 30 million refugees, all of whom acquired new abodes within a decade. The partition of India produced 14 million refugees, again, seeing all of them re-settled in less than a decade. Since 1959, more than 10 million Cubans have been driven out of their homeland and settled in a dozen countries, notably the United States.

Does it make any sense to have refugee camps even in Gaza, which was free of Israeli occupation for two decades? Or in the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority? Is it humane to turn being a refugee into a profession, with UNRWA as the franchise-holder?

The Biden administration is making a big mistake by implicitly upgrading Hamas to a legitimate partner through regional allies, thus creating the illusion that razzias like the October 7 one could still produce at least a lollipop for perpetrators.

The Biden administration is making a big mistake by implicitly upgrading Hamas to a legitimate partner through regional allies, thus creating the illusion that razzias like the October 7 one could still produce at least a lollipop for perpetrators. Pictured: Hamas terrorists on their way into Israel from Gaza Strip, on their mission to murder Jews, on the morning of October 7, 2023. (Photo by Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

Although the tragic narrative that started with Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel isn’t yet completed, do-gooders and virtue-signalers are rushing to write their postscripts.

British and European Union leaders say the time has come to formally accept the creation of a Palestinian state.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and EU foreign policy tsar Josep Borrel even suggest that the Security Council pass a resolution to make that mandatory, adding to the 230 resolutions already passed on the issue.

Meanwhile, Major-General Ismail Qaani, chief of the Quds Force of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, promises to “rebuild Gaza stronger than before as an advance post against world Zionism.”

The Biden administration in Washington is making favorable noises about the two-state “solution” while musing about regime change, albeit in Israel.

Some pundits assert that the Gaza war has already lasted too long and should be brought to a speedy end before it produces a definite winner and loser.

One pundit wonders what Henry Kissinger, the anointed guru of American diplomacy, would have done to end the war. He forgets that Kissinger was a crafty conjurer who turned something into nothing but persuaded the spectators that the opposite had happened.

Remember his “shuttle diplomacy,” each stage of which gave him a photo-op? And his “confidence-building” roadshows to divert attention from the core issue at hand?

Pundits in the Parisian daily Le Monde advocate the two-state solution as if it were a newly discovered flavor. They forget that the so-called “solution” has been there since 1947 and has led nowhere because those directly involved don’t want it.

As a reporter, I covered the so-called “peace talks” from the Madrid Conference in 1991 until it petered out as a sorrowful farce. For over a decade, the two-state solution was on the agenda without anyone telling us where those imaginary states would be located.

British and European pundits are also “concerned” about the length of the Gaza war and urge unspecified action to shorten it.

They forget that fighting armed groups that wish to impose their agenda by, to put it in a politically correct manner as the BBC does, “irregular warfare” cannot be conceived in terms of a short theatrical sketch.

It took the British 11 years to extinguish the fire of “irregular fighters” in Malaya.

The fight against Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru took almost 30 years.

In Colombia, the M19 took 20 years to die. The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) did better by hanging on for almost 40 years. Uruguay managed to kill the Tupamaros in five years.

India partly calmed down the “freedom fighters” of Nagaland after a 40-year war, while it continues to face an even more tenacious adversary in Kashmir.

Turkey has been fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for more than 30 years.

In Burma, Karen “freedom fighters” have been at war with the Rangoon junta for almost half a century.

Claiming to be a “freedom fighter” shouldn’t mean a license to kill at will. Even the “oppressed” have certain duties and must observe some rules while, as history has shown, the tyranny of the underdog could be as deadly as that of the oppressor.

In 1962, US President John F. Kennedy identified insurgency as the predominant threat to American interests.

Kennedy’s National Security Action Memorandum No. 124 of January 18, 1962, saw insurgency as a major form of politico-military conflict equal in importance to conventional warfare.

Kennedy made support for the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) conditional on observing a set of rules, especially by not attacking civilian targets.

The US position was deeply resented by the French, but forced the FLN to stop planting bombs in cafés and start acting like a political party, pursuing its goal through political and diplomatic channels.

The question today is why, when no time limit is imposed on conventional war until a victor emerges, should war against an insurgent group be subjected to calendar-based shenanigans?

The 7 October attack on Israel was a razzia, an Italian word that has entered most European languages. In fact, the origin of razzia is the Arabic word ghazwa, which means a sudden no-holds-barred attack on a single set of targets in the hope of knocking out an adversary.

The sinking of the cruiser Lusitania during the First World War in May 1915 was a razzia, as was the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941. Those two razzias pushed the United States into two world wars.

The 9/11 attacks of 2001 on the US were four coordinated razzias.

Each of those razzias led to the destruction of perpetrators, sometimes, as in the case of the August 7 attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the carpet-bombing of Dresden, with far greater fury.

Payback after those razzias didn’t produce sympathy for the perpetrators. People in the so-called democracies didn’t march to stop action against those who had sunk the Lusitania, bombed Pearl Harbor, and turned part of London into heaps of rubble.

Harvard and Princeton luminaries didn’t protest when the US launched its “war on terror” to avenge 9/11.

No one denies that for over seven decades, Palestinians have suffered a great deal. But is the way to end or at least alleviate their suffering to exempt their self-imposed political organizations from observing a minimum of ethical rules, even if their adversary didn’t always reciprocate?

Treating the Palestinian issue as if it were an exception to all rules has done great harm to Palestinians.

They have become the first people in history to have four generations frozen in the status of refugees. World War II produced over 30 million refugees, all of whom acquired new abodes within a decade. The partition of India produced 14 million refugees, again, seeing all of them re-settled in less than a decade. Since 1959, more than 10 million Cubans have been driven out of their homeland and settled in a dozen countries, notably the United States.

Does it make any sense to have refugee camps even in Gaza, which was free of Israeli occupation for two decades? Or in the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority? Is it humane to turn being a refugee into a profession, with UNRWA as the franchise-holder?

Do those who encourage Hamas by marching in its support know what percentage of Palestinians it represents and, more importantly, whether those who do support it also approve of the 7 October razzia?

The Biden administration is making a big mistake by implicitly upgrading Hamas to a legitimate partner through regional allies, thus creating the illusion that razzias like the October 7 one could still produce at least a lollipop for perpetrators.

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.

This article originally appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat and is reprinted with some changes by kind permission of the author.

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